Shadow Play

Sunday morning I was fortunate to be awake and paying attention to the play of light and shadows as the show took place on the garden room cherry cabinet doors and stairs. The breeze was coaxing the leaves overhead into a lively dance.

I watched the dancing shadows in pure amazement, awed at the intricacy of their choreography. Such a short fragment of time to catch a glimpse of this fluttery movement before full sunlight took center stage.

What a blessing for this singular audience to view a snippet of nature’s remarkable artistry.

Sunday Shadow Play

This morning I was fortunate enough to be awake and paying attention to the play of light and shadows as the show took place on our garden room cherry cabinet doors and stairway. The breeze was coaxing the leaves overhead into a lively dance. I watched the dancing shadows in pure amazement at the intricacy of their choreography. Such a short fragment of time to get a glimpse of this fluttery movement before full sunlight took center stage. What a blessing for this singular audience to witness a snippet of nature’s intricate artistry.

Food — so much more than what’s on your plate

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I stood in the pouring rain this morning, plastic reusable bags in hand chatting with the special people who grow the delicious salads that grace my table every evening. As those who know me best know, I love to cook and I love every part of the cooking process from choosing my ingredients on the grocery store shelf or from the simple tented stands that line both sides of the Columbia Farmers Market.

I debated whether to “weather” the torrential downpours forecast for this morning. I mean I could have easily stayed all warm and snuggly in front of the wood stove, coffee cup in hand. But the thought of missing the best of the asparagus or arugula urged me to don my blue raincoat and Whole Kids Outreach ball cap.

I have been thinking a lot about the art of cooking this week. A friend just recently extolled the virtues of getting a whole gourmet meal, divided into ingredients I would swish together in a half hour for a fabulous meal after work. I thought about it for a minute and decided that wasn’t for me. I realized as I thought about it more that cooking is an art form for me and my ingredients are my palate. I like concentrating on what flavors and colors will compliment each dish in the meal. I love thinking about this every single day that I am home, as opposed to bringing home a prepared dinner from the local grocer or having it sent in a box from a place hundreds of miles away.

I absolutely love kicking off my Saturday visiting with the growers, even in the chilly pouring rain. I love their commitment to growing these vegetables and they love my commitment to appreciating and buying them. What a wonderful relationship we have engendered which makes my homemade, homegrown meal even more special. “Good for you” meals are rooted in love – love for the land, love for our bodies, and love for each other.

I think it is the foundation for a healthy society – healthiness that has a broader definition than being focused on our bodies – I see it has an important part of a healthy social fabric. And I might be so bold as to say it is the root of fundamental social health.

The personal relationship between the maker/grower and the artist who makes the meal impacts them and those around them. A ripple of positivity occurs. There is something quite transformative that happens here. No wonder it means so much to me.

 

Writing — My Life Line

Sarah posted a blog this past week (https://www.sarahratermannbeahan.com/blog) about the importance of writing to get rid of the “BS chatter in your mind and weighing on your heart so new life and creativity can grow.

As I have probably mentioned on this site before, I have journaled for years, even before I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Cameron’s book certainly underscored the importance of writing practice. Putting pen to paper is therapy for me. I can say whatever I want, whenever I want and nothing is judged. Once I start writing I know I can dump the good, the bad and the really ugly, and leave it there within those manila pages.

Actually, it is much more to me than unloading all that is cluttering my psyche. It is also a creative expression. I absolutely love seeing my flow across the page, my handwriting curling and swirling in different colors every day. Maybe I became more devoted to my cursive handwriting when I got a “D” in third grade in handwriting. Whatever the reason, it is part of how I express myself now.

I also kick off my day’s entry with a simply drawing. Lately I’ve been drawing spring leaves on long, flowing stems, filling them in with a yellow chartreuse pencil. Coloring my own drawings brings me even more satisfaction than in coloring in any of my numerous coloring books.

I often people my monthly hair appointment is my therapy session (God love you, Josh!) But truly, my open sketch book – my beloved journal provides an emotional outlet, a healing session every day. It helps me to empty my obsessive list of to-do’s – freeing my mind so I can open to allowing my creativity and inspiration to come through me. It is amazing what emerges after just a short written respite.

I know there have been studies that have shown the importance of writing – the powerful connection between the hand and the mind. With pen and paper at my fingertips I have navigated a myriad of challenges with grace and determination. My writing has helped me to persist.

a case for imperfection

“Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.”   Author unknown

I keep thinking about this statement and all the applications in my life….

The three grain bread I made today isn’t rounded on the top – but it smells good and it tastes delicious, certainly better than any bread I can buy a grocery store.

My body – same thing. My curves are curvier than they were last year. My feet seem to ache more than they did a couple of years ago. But I love that my eyes can see the exquisite beauty of this late summer afternoon, my ears take in the twitter of the birds in our trees and the voice of the breeze in the trees calms me.  My happy feet and legs make my walks along the river possible. The wonders of my body make my life richer despite my graying hair and the lines on my forehead.

My relationships bear this maxim out as well. I have been married to the same tall, creative, determined lovely man for over 40 years. Our marriage has weathered its fair share of storms but I still can’t wait to see him when we’ve been apart for a few days.

I mean, what would our worlds be like if all was perfect???? I believe the imperfections are the guideposts for new lessons and growth –the kinds of things that make us want to get up in the morning.

I’ll take the wonderful and learn from the imperfections. Life is good this way.

The Long Defeat

I just finished reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It is the story of an anthropologist and physician, Paul Farmer, who works relentlessly for better health care and population health in underdeveloped countries.

Towards the end of the book Kidder asks Farmer a question that he has asked before. Basically, why he continues to fight for what sometimes looks like a losing cause.

Farmer says, “I have fought for my whole life a long defeat…… I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing. Now I actually think sometimes we may win. I don’t dislike victory……

You know people from our background – like you, … like me – we’re used to being on a victory team, actually what we’re really trying do in PIH (Partners in Health) is to make common cause with the losers. Those are two very different things. We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it’s not worth it. So you fight the long defeat.”

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a new colleague about my decision to remain in health care. I admit, I thought it would feel better if I was doing something creative and fun, something that could produce joy and fulfillment. I was disenchanted with health care because I felt the needle wasn’t moving. I thought we were just t spinning our wheels.

I see that I wanted to see a victory, to know that our work was making an impact. But I understand that I was being led to stay in the health care fray because I know it well and I am using my talents to contribute to an agenda that may not produce significant results in my lifetime.

Paul Farmer has inspired me to lock arms with him and the people all over the world who are focusing on the work, the process, despite whether we are losing. I want to rid myself of the idea that victory is the ultimate goal. Rather, I want to keep believing I am still involved in health care because I want to help and I have been led to contribute in this arena even though I thought I wanted out.

And honestly, I am happy here, working hard to help improve the health of underserved Missourians. I know I am in good company in this work, and that is gratifying. I am glad to be back and fully engaged in the work, whether it is considered a ‘long defeat’ or not.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!

As some of you may remember I started an experiment at the beginning of December. I was going to try to sweep the negative thoughts out of my life and see what would happen.

Well, here I am the first week of February and I feel like my life is on fire with possibility. I feel like cleaning the closet of my mind, and continually trying to keep it uncluttered from negativity has reaped BIG rewards.

In tandem with this mind set experiment or maybe because of it, I also started a 30 day Yoga Camp with Adriene. I had “take a yoga class” on my to-do list for over a year and nothing seemed quite right.

Then Sarah invited me to join her on doing this Yoga Camp that was going to combine yoga practice with mindfulness and spirituality. Of course I was game because I could dig doing yoga that would be part of my spiritual practice and I could look as dumb as anything at home with no one to watch.

I am doing Day 30 tomorrow and I feel like it has been a fantastic experience for both my body ad my mind. I am more flexible now, a bit more balanced (it seems like my left side is weak which is understandable). And I feel stronger.

There is something very special about this yoga practice for me too. Adriene continually asks you to open your heart, lift your heart – I so needed this. Putting bodily action to what I was thinking in my mind and in my heart supercharged my outlook on my world.

And it seems as if the more I open up with my body, mind and spirit, the more the world is opening up to me. It is like my whole life and even the lives of those who are dearest to me are just full of continual affirmations of our goodness, our talents, and our desire to serve.

It feels so good to have so much YES happening. I am just humbled and grateful beyond belief.

And tonight, I take a yoga class with others. Day 29’s mantra was I love myself. I figure I do, and loving me means I do this for me regardless of what my form looks like. In fact, it will be fun to see how close I have come to the benchmark. And there will probably be lots of opportunity for me to laugh at myself.

Happy February, everyone. Let’s have fun this year. It is the Year of the Monkey and anyone who has been studying this, knows the Monkey is about having fun. Yes!